Death toll is 2 in Mexico quake; volcano rumor quelled
REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Two people have died after last week's large earthquake in Mexico, the first casualties reported since the magnitude 7.4 quake shook densely populated Mexico City and damaged thousands of homes across several southern states.
The mayor of a municipality in Guerrero state, near the border with Oaxaca and near the quake epicenter, said that one man died of his injuries after a wall fell on him and that another man died from complications of a heart attack suffered during the quake.
The deaths in the Cuajinicuilapa municipality were reported to the federal government during a tour Friday of the largely rural zone by Social Development Secretary Heriberto Felix Guerra (link in post in Spanish).
Previously, no deaths and no major damages had been reported since the quake, which was centered in Ometepec, Guerrero state.
It was one of the largest seismic events in Mexico since the devastating magnitude 8 quake of 1985 that left more than 10,000 dead. (A quake of equal magnitude hit western Mexico in 1995, killing 49, and a quake measuring 7.6 hit the same region in 2003.)
The low death toll in Tuesday's quake suggests Mexico's progress on earthquake preparedness since 1985 makes the country a "model for preparedness in the developing world," said an online story by Nature.
Mexico's interior secretariat said 29 municipalities in Guerrero would receive funds for damage to homes and buildings during the quake. Thousands were damaged in Guerrero and Oaxaca, officials said.
Separately, the geophysics institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico released a statement contesting a claim made by Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre that caused a brief buzz on social networking sites. The governor said Thursday that the university's geophysicists were headed to the quake zone to determine whether a small volcano was emerging and therefore causing the seismic activity.
The institute said it was routine to send analysts to earthquake epicenters to study seismic activity after a large quake. "The earthquake ... had a non-volcanic origin," the statement said.
On Sunday, a quake measuring 7.1 hit Chile, resulting in no deaths.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: A child picks up debris of his damaged home at the village of Huixtepec, in the municipality of Ometepec, Guerrero state, on March 23, 2012. Credit: Pedro Pardo / AFP/Getty Images